Henry V: Novel Summary: Act 3, Scene 6

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In response to Gower's question, Fluellen informs him that an advance English force has captured a bridge from the French. The Duke of Exeter, who was in command, is safe, and a soldier named Pistol distinguished himself in the skirmish.
Pistol enters and asks Fluellen to do him a favor. It seems that Bardolph has been caught stealing a pax (a tablet stamped with a crucifix) from a church. Exeter has sentenced him to hang. Pistol begs Fluellen to intervene with Exeter on Bardolph's behalf. But Fluellen refuses, saying that discipline must be upheld. After Pistol exits muttering curses, Gower remarks to Fluellen that he knows Pistol, and the man is nothing more than a fool and a rogue. He is the sort who will go back to London and boast about having been a soldier in the wars, and embellish his stories will all manner of lies. Fluellen sees that he has been taken in by Pistol and that Pistol is not the man he pretends to be.
Henry enters and Fluellen informs him that the bridge has been taken. The French have lost many men, but the English not one. Then Fluellen mentions that Bardolph (who was one of Henry's drinking buddies in his wild youth) is to be executed for robbing a church. Henry confirms the sentence, and tells his men that as they march through the country, they are not to steal or abuse the French people in any way.
Montjoy the herald enters. He delivers the French response: Henry must consider what ransom to offer, which must be proportionate to the losses the French have suffered.
Henry replies that he does not seek a battle at this moment, and is willing to retreat to Calais. He confesses that his army has been weakened by sickness, although he brags that one healthy English soldier is worth three French ones. However, even in weakened condition, his army will accept a battle if it comes. They do not seek one, but will not run from it.
After Montjoy leaves, Gloucester says he hopes the French will not seek a battle; Henry replies that their fate is in God's hands, not those of the French.
Analysis
This scene contains another incident in which Henry shows how firmly he has put his youthful past behind him, whatever the cost might be to him personally. It is entirely within his power to spare Bardolph, his old pal, from the gallows, but he shows no mercy. His duty as king supercedes and transcends any loyalty to old friends. He is well aware that his small army must maintain discipline and order if it is to have any chance against the French.

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